I love New Orleans... It's one of my favorite U.S. cities because of the food, the people, and the spirit. And, of course, it's very French.
In our house, we have another reason to love Louisiana: Our little dog, Pippa, comes from the state, via two great organizations, Mutts4Rescue and Rescue Road Trips . It was love at first sight when we spotted her on the Internet. This little girl was abandoned next to a dumpster and rescued and fostered by some very generous people, and we are so very grateful for her presence in our lives. She makes us laugh every day and I think she embodies the spirit of New Orleans: "Laissez les bons temps rouler!" (Let the good times roll...which Pippa thinks means unraveling the roll of toilet paper and decorating the house with it...Hey, SHE'S having a good time!). I have no idea what ingredients went into her DNA, nor do I feel like spending the $100 it would cost me to find out (actually, $200, because our other dog, Bix, is also of mixed lineage and I don't play favorites).
Anyway, celebrate your own good times with these Louisiana favorites.
Makes 6 servings
1 lb. raw shrimp in shell
5 cups water
8 oz. bottled clam juice
2 onions, one quartered and one chopped
3 bay leaves
1/4 cup bacon grease (or coconut oil)
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup almond flour
2 TBS ghee (clarified butter)
1 green pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 lb Paleo-friendly spicy sausage, sliced (I used Island Acres Farm Lemon-Pepper Chicken Sausages from my local food co-op, which are fully-cooked, but you can also use uncooked. Just make sure that sausages are free of bread crumbs and other non-Paleo ingredients)
1 10 oz. package frozen, sliced okra, or a pound of fresh okra, sliced
1/2 tsp thyme
1 tsp sea salt
A few grindings of black pepper
A pinch of cayenne pepper
2 cups chopped fresh or canned tomatoes
A few drops Paleo-friendly hot pepper sauce, like Frank's
Chopped parsley for garnish
Cauliflower rice for serving ( 1/2 cauliflower head, broken into flowerets and processed in food processor until it resembles grains of rice. Sauté in a little coconut oil until "rice" is cooked through).
1. Shell and devein the shrimp. Put the shelled shrimp in the refrigerator.
2. To make the broth, put the shells in a pot with the water, the clam broth, the quartered onion and 1 bay leaf. Bring to a boil and simmer, partially covered for 20 minutes. Strain, reserve the broth, and discard the shells, onion and bay leaf.
3. To make the roux, melt the bacon grease (or the coconut oil) in a heavy skillet and stir in the coconut and almond flours. Stir constantly over low/medium heat until the roux is smooth and the color of peanut butter. (The nice thing about a Paleo roux is that it takes a lot less time than one made with wheat flour, which could take 30 minutes or more). Turn off the heat and keep stirring for a few minutes more.
4. In a heavy soup pot, melt the ghee and sauté the chopped onion, celery and green pepper (the "Holy Trinity" of Cajun cooking) until they are soft, but not brown.
5. Add the sausage and the okra. Cook until the okra stops giving off white "threads."
6. Add remaining bay leaves, salt, black pepper, cayenne and a few drops hot pepper sauce. Add stock and tomatoes, bring to a boil, partly cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
7. Whisk the roux into the mixture and bring to a boil, stirring. Lower heat and simmer, uncovered for another 40 minutes. Stir from time to time.
8. While gumbo is cooking, make the cauliflower "rice" (see directions, above).
9. Add the shrimp to the gumbo and cook until shrimp turn pink, about 2-3 minutes.
10. Put cauliflower "rice" in bowls and top with gumbo. Garnish with chopped parsley. Provide hot sauce at the table for those who like their gumbo really spicy.
"Kichel!" said my husband at first bite. And he was right. They tasted just like the old Manischewitz Egg Kichels, airy, eggy cookies which were the same as Stella d'Oro Egg Biscuits (only one company was Jewish and the other Italian). Drizzled with honey, they also reminded me a little bit of Mexican sopapillas. And, true confession here, I like the idea of beignets better than the real things (too greasy), so these Paleo quasi-beignets are just perfect for me! Add a cup of café au lait (half coffee, half warmed full-fat canned coconut milk) and you can almost hear the Zydeco!
French lesson for today: Zydeco is the music of French-speaking Creoles in southwest Louisiana. The word comes from the French "les haricots"--pronounce the "s" like a "z"--meaning "beans," more specifically from the phrase "Les haricots sont pas salés (the beans aren't salty) a colloquial expression meaning "Times are hard."
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup full-fat canned coconut milk
Pinch of sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup tapioca flour
2 large eggs
Raw honey, for drizzling
Powdered maple sugar (2 TBS maple sugar, mixed with 1/2 teaspoon arrowroot).
Equipment: 12 silicon muffin cups, cookie sheet; OR pastry bag and greased cookie sheet
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine coconut oil, coconut milk, salt and vanilla in a small saucepan on medium heat. Bring to a boil and let boil vigorously for 5-6 minutes.
2. Remove from heat, pour into food processor and add the tapioca flour all at once. Process until thoroughly mixed and it starts to thicken.
3. Put mixture back in saucepan and heat over medium heat , stirring, until it thickens into a sticky dough.
4. Put dough back in food processor. Process for 2-3 minutes, then add eggs and process for 2-3 minutes longer until thoroughly mixed.
5. Put the silicon cups on a cookie sheet and fill the cups half full ( I have just discovered these and I think they are fabulous. You don't have to grease them and the beignets pop right out when they are baked) or, as in the original recipe, spoon dough into pastry bag and pipe into squares on a greased ( with a little coconut oil) cookie sheet.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Turn off oven and leave in for another 15 minutes.
7. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
8. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with powdered maple sugar (and try not to eat 4 of them in a sitting, as I did!).